Accompanied by the Orquesta Sinfónica de RTVE (Radio Televisión Española Symphony Orchestra), Spanish guitarist Narciso Yepes performs Joaquín Rodrigo’s Fantasía para un gentilhombre (English translation: Fantasia for a Gentleman). Conductor: Odón Alonso. Recorded in Madrid in 1991. A beautiful interpretation of the piece. Yepes is using his ten-string guitar in this performance.
Rodrigo’s Fantasía para un Gentilhombre
Fantasía para un gentilhombre (Fantasia for a Gentleman) is a concerto for guitar and orchestra by the Spanish composer Joaquín Rodrigo (22 November 1901 – 6 July 1999). The concerto is Rodrigo’s second most popular work after the famous Concierto de Aranjuez.
Fantasía para un Gentilhombre is in four movements:
- Villano y ricercar
- Españoleta y
fanfarriade la caballería de Nápoles
- Danza de las
They were based on six short dances for solo guitar by the 17th-century Spanish composer Gaspar Sanz (see notes 1), taken from a three-volume work (1674, 1675, 1697) now commonly known as Instrucción de Música Sobre la Guitarra Española (Musical Instruction on the Spanish Guitar) (Donis 2005:75). Most of the movements retain the names that Sanz originally gave them.
Movement 1. Villano y ricercar
The first movement opens with the melodic Villano that passes back and forth between the solo guitarist and the orchestra repeatedly. This is the form of the other movements of the work. The music also hints subtly at themes used in the subsequent movements. The second part of the first movement, called Ricercare, is a short piece contrasting with Villano and entirely based on a two-bar phrase, repeated in the form of a complex fugue or ricercare.
Movement 2. Españoleta y fanfarria de la caballería de Nápoles
The second movement returns to a more lyrical theme with the Españoleta, which has a particularly haunting tune with a
Movement 3. Danza de las hachas
The third movement, Danza de las Hachas (Dance of the Axes), has an energetic dance beat, largely supported by a crescendo from the orchestra. This lively, short movement is in effect an interlude linking the more mournful part of the Fantasía with the more upbeat final movement.
Movement 4. Canario
The finale of the Fantasía para un gentilhombre, Canario, brings in music that Sanz wrote in the style of a folk dance originating in the Canary Islands. Rodrigo pays homage to the music’s origins by imitating a bird call toward the end of the movement even though the Canary Islands were so named because of the wild dogs prevalent there (canis) and not because of birds (canaries).
Narciso Yepes and his Ten-String Guitar
In 1964, Yepes performed the Concierto de Aranjuez with the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra, premièring the ten-string guitar, which he invented in collaboration with the renowned guitar maker José Ramírez III.
The instrument made it possible to transcribe works originally written for the baroque lute without deleterious transposition of the bass notes. However, the main reason for the invention of this instrument was the addition of string resonators tuned to C, A#, G#, and F#, which resulted in the first guitar with truly chromatic string resonance – similar to that of the piano with its sustain/pedal mechanism.
After 1964, Yepes used the ten-string guitar exclusively.
Related: Narciso Yepes plays Romance Anonimo
- Gaspar Sanz (1640-1710) was an Aragonese composer, guitarist, organist, and priest born to a wealthy family in Calanda in the comarca of Bajo Aragón, Spain. He studied music, theology, and philosophy at the University of Salamanca, where he was later appointed Professor of Music. He wrote three volumes of pedagogical works for the baroque guitar that form an important part of today’s classical guitar repertory and have informed modern scholars about the techniques of baroque guitar playing.
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